If you’re training for the Gold Coast Marathon it’s important to pay attention to how you are fuelling your running in the lead up to and on the day of the event. Here are my most important nutrition tips to give your body what it needs to stand up to the test of endurance:
Don’t deprive yourself of nutrition whilst in marathon training as it will hinder your training recovery and cause fatigue. It’s a good idea to make sure you’re having red meat at least twice per week and green leafy vegetables such as silver beet and spinach as your iron levels may drop a little with the extra training load prior to a marathon. With the weather getting cooler, you may not feel you need to drink until you get thirsty but it’s important to make sure you also drink plenty of water regularly to avoid dehydration.
Before marathons, I always started carb loading 2.5 days out. Carb loading should not mean drastic changes to your meals, but rather ensuring you incorporate some carbohydrates into each meal of the day for slow energy release. Meal timing is also important, so the night before the race, try to have your biggest meal around 5pm so you have time to digest it before the race the next morning.
On the morning of the race, the golden rule is to not eat anything different- there is nothing worse than stomach pains in a marathon! You must ensure that you eat something before the marathon and are practising your pre-race meals before longer training sessions in the lead up to the race, adjusting if necessary.
During and after the race
Drinks are readily available on course, so make sure you take a drink from each station, even if you take just a few sips, particularly in the beginning stages of the race. I recommend taking a gel during your run and depending on your body weight and metabolism, you’ll need one to two gels every hour after the first hour. Practise using gels in training so you know what to expect and what amount suits you best and to get used to consuming and digesting on the run.
This is the time to enjoy! Whilst it’s important to replenish your nutrition quickly post-race with some good quality carbohydrates and water, it is also a time to celebrate your amazing achievement- you’ve earned it!
Benita Willis is the 2004 World Cross Country Champion, a four-time Olympian and multiple Australian record holder.